Some followup on the NRV Mall / New River Community College Shootings

 

A couple of weeks ago, just as the gun-control debate in the Senate was heating up, a nameless attention-whore decided to take a shotgun and shoot up the local community college satellite campus. This is MY community college, the one that I am currently taking classes at. Thankfully, he didn’t manage to kill anybody, and only managed to wound two people (which is probably the only reason the anti-Rights blood-dancers didn’t jump all over it).

I call him an attention-whore because he actually posted his intent on 4chan before he started, and posted the address for the local emergency services internet radio scanner, telling people to listen to the chaos he was about to inflict. As a result, the maintainer of that scanner has discontinued it (I assume that’s the reason, based on the note at the link, which says “Due to recent events that have taken place in my community, I have decided to discontinue this feed.”). This is highly irritating to me, since I frequently used it while at work to see if there was a major emergency nearby – usually when I would hear multiple police/fire/EMS sirens. That scanner feed is how I learned about that particular incident, and how I learned about the murder of Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek Crouse, which occurred only a couple of blocks from my office.

Speaking of learning about these incidents, I also learned (or verified, really, since I already knew) that you cannot rely on those fancy text/email alert systems that most colleges have put in to warn people about emergencies. It wasn’t until about 20 minutes after the shootings that I got the first text message from the college, and that only said that the college was “closing immediately at both locations”. The first message alerting students that “administrators have unconfirmed reports of a shooting” at the mall campus didn’t go out until 40 minutes after the shootings.

In other words, by the time I got the emergency messages, the emergency was long over. I don’t know whether the delay was in getting the message to the administration, the administration waiting to send it, or simply the cellular networks getting overloaded by the sudden batch sending of about 5,000 text messages, but it was essentially useless as an actual emergency alert system. Like always, you are on your own when it comes to your own safety.

And, of course, the school’s policy is to disarm students and staff under penalty of expulsion/firing, and make their campuses into  Gun Free Victim Disarmament Zones. It worked just as well in this case as it always does.

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Operation Campus Safety – Virginia Tech

Yesterday was VCDL‘s “Operation Campus Safety” protest at Virginia Tech. Based on what I saw in the short time I was there, in its last hour, I would call it a success. I got there at about 3:00, and this is what I saw.

Click to embiggenate

It wasn’t apparent at first, but the group to the right of the stairs was actually the anti-rights counter-protest. I would say there were about 20 or 25 VCDL folks there at that point (several are out of frame to the left, past the tents), and about 10 to 15 antis. Keep in mind that this was 3 1/2 hours after the event officially started and 1 hour before the official end, and temperatures were hovering in the mid to upper 30′s, so it was really only the most dedicated people (on both sides)who stuck around that long. There were several speakers that were scheduled to start at noon, which I unfortunately missed.

There were a surprising number of students taking “Guns save lives” stickers and the VCDL handouts, and several specifically walked over to talk and voice their support just while I was there. I know I heard more than one variation on “I couldn’t stop earlier so I came back.” I didn’t see anyone stop for the antis, though I could have missed it. VCDL members were spread out and actively engaging passerby, while the antis seemed to be huddled together and just standing there. All reports from the people I saw were that the antis were unusually well-behaved.

VCDL had lots of signs out.

All in all, a good showing. I saw one semi-openly carried firearm*, and at least two empty holsters. I’m sure there were several more firearms that I never saw.

So many firearms on campus. Yet strangely enough nothing happened. Go figure.

It’s almost as if the antis don’t know what they’re talking about, or something.

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* Meaning that it appeared to be an open carry rig, and no apparent effort was made at deliberate concealment, but her coat frequently covered it and made it hard to notice – a normal consequence of carrying during cold weather. I was surprised, because she had walked by me several times before I noticed it. I’m not entirely sure, but I got an impression of 1911-ness.

Reminder – Operation Campus Safety at Virginia Tech Today

Just a reminder, VCDL‘s Operation Campus Safety is at Virginia Tech today.

We have approval for the protest from 8 AM to 4 PM on Thursday, November 17th.  While some of us will be there early, the main protest will start at 11:30 AM and run until 4 PM.  Speakers will start at 12 Noon and continue until 1:30 PM.

[...]

The protest will be held in front of the Squires Student Center (College Ave./Otey Street side), not far from the town of Blacksburg or the VT Drillfield.

I’m going to try to show up during my lunch, if I can, for at least a little bit. Unfortunately, my remaining vacation time for the year is already allocated, and my lunch time is limited.

Campus Carry bans do nothing more than create Victim Disarmament Zones, and they must no longer be tolerated. VCDL deserves all the support we can give them in this endeavor. (They also need a new website design that better reflects their current activities, but that’s another issue.)

And remember, when a university or college asks for money, tell them:  NO GUNS?  NO FUNDS!

END OF LINE

[Source: VCDL email alert from 10/26/11]

Operation Campus Safety at Virginia Tech

The Virginia Citizen’s Defense League has announced (via email alert) its planned protest at Virginia Tech in opposition to the university’s plans to codify it’s anti-gun stance as a state regulation.

Finally – we have a date and time for Operation Campus Safety at Virginia Tech!

**Mark your calendars, this is going to be big and you’re going to want to be part of it!**

We have approval for the protest from 8 AM to 4 PM on Thursday, November 17th.  While some of us will be there early, the main protest will start at 11:30 AM and run until 4 PM.  Speakers will start at 12 Noon and continue until 1:30 PM.  We will need lots of people to carry signs, pass out literature, and answer questions.

This should be an excellent day to be on campus as it is a game day (UNC vs VT), allowing us maximum visibility.  We are also looking at having a presence in nearby Blacksburg.

The protest will be held in front of the Squires Student Center (College Ave./Otey Street side), not far from the town of Blacksburg or the VT Drillfield.

More details will follow, including parking information and possible carpooling from area localities.

A very special thanks to Eric Smith, President of the Libertarians at Virginia Tech.  The Libertarians are hosting the protest and Eric is working hard to make the protest a success, patiently working his way through the VT bureaucracy to get the event approved.

Another powerful force in bringing everything together is  John Wilburn, a VT alumni.  He has been doing all kinds of coordination behind the scenes and he, too, has made it a personal mission to make the protest a huge success.

This is a mission to save lives and that drives both Eric and John, just like it drives all of VCDL’s membership.

There is no way this would have come together so well without Eric and John!

Oh, and as if John isn’t doing enough already, besides running his own business (Hokie Real Estate, Inc.), he is a firearms instructor and will be giving away free CHP classes to two lucky attendees!

Thanks also to EMs Dave Hicks and Dave Knight, who are helping with both the VT and the Radford protests.

Radford and JMU students – come to Virginia Tech on November 17th and stand with Virginia Tech students in support of freedom and liberty.  VCDL will ask the VT students to do the same when we announce the Radford and JMU protests in the near future.

Wild horses couldn’t keep me away – see you there!

No guns? NO FUNDS!  (Remember:  Donations for Virginia Tech can be sent to Blue Ridge Community College instead. )

What is “Operation Campus Safety”? Unfortunately, I can’t find an announcement on their actual website (which they really need to redesign). But it was covered in one of their VA-ALERTS emails. (If you live in Virginia, or travel here frequently, you really should subscribe to their email alerts. There is also an RSS feed available, and an archive.)

THE PROBLEM – UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES ENDANGERING THE INNOCENT

The Board of Directors of VCDL has decided that enough is enough when it comes to the safety of the students, faculty, staff, and guests at Virginia public universities and colleges.  Higher-education “no gun” policies do not make the innocent any safer.  Instead such policies enable people like [the killer] to wantonly massacre, rape, and rob.

Those policies disarm students, faculty and staff not only on campus, but going to and from campus.  ODU, for example, is not situated in the best part of town and unarmed students pay the price.

What’s even more egregious is that concealed handgun permit holders, who are at least 21 years old, have clean records, have had training, are not illegal drug users or habitual drunkards, and carry virtually everywhere else they go, are purposely left helpless.  There simply is no excuse for that.  Just one armed permit holder in one of those classrooms under attack at Virginia Tech on that fateful day in 2007 could have stopped [the killer].

[...]

A SOLUTION – VCDL WILL BE PROTESTING AT A SCHOOL NEAR YOU!

If higher-education won’t do the right thing on their own, then VCDL and gun owners statewide need to “nudge” them onto the right path.

How do we do that?

Simple.  We hit them where it hurts – right in the wallet.  With the economy in the dumps, higher-ed is probably not getting the level of donations they are used to and we plan on squeezing them even more.

To that effect, VCDL is preparing a series of campus protests over the next few months.  We are having signs, brochures, and stickers made as I write this.  We will be on campus educating students and we will be reaching out to alumni to stop donations to the school until they change their policies, however long that takes.

[...]

I will be announcing each protest a week or so before it is held here on VA-ALERT so that we can get a good turnout at each one.  We will need people holding signs, handing out brochures, and talking to those with questions.  Someone from VCDL leadership will be interfacing with the press.

In the meantime, spread the word far and near.  When a university or college asks for money, tell them:  NO GUNS?  NO FUNDS!

Being active in politics is important. Being active in local politics is even more important. VCDL has been a driving and influential force in Virginia politics, and they deserve our support. I plan to be there if I can get away from work, even if it’s just for my lunch hour.

Campus Carry bans do nothing more than create Victim Disarmament Zones, and they must no longer be tolerated.

END OF LINE

Virginia Tech, Occupied (but only for a little bit)

So, the campus “occupation” yesterday was more of a transient protest, it seems. Rather than camping out like the Wall Street or other big city groups, they apparently went home at the end of the evening yesterday. There was the same socialist idiocy we’re seeing at the other protests, but I did want to focus on one of the protesters from the Roanoke Times story I linked to above.

Starflower O’Sullivan, a Tech alumna, said the distribution of resources is skewed to the point that she and her husband, a campus dishwasher earning $19,000 a year, can’t afford to buy a house within a reasonable distance of his workplace.

That’s funny, because I managed to buy a house within a reasonable distance of my workplace (which is just off campus), and I only make about $25,000 a year – and I’m single. I bet you and your husband combined make significantly more than that. Maybe you should re-think your view of what is a “reasonable” distance. There’s at least one house for sale right down the street from me that you should be able to afford.

O’Sullivan and other protesters railed against the high wages of some faculty and administrators, such as President Charles Steger, and football coaches, in comparison with the low wages they said many other Tech employees earn.

Let’s think about that for a second. President Steger is the person ultimately responsible for every facet of the University’s operation. From academics and research to financial management to athletics to trash removal, anything and everything affecting the workings of a major university with 30,000 students and 1,300 academic staff is his responsibility. The education of those 30,000 students is ultimately his responsibility. The handling of major incidents, like the April 16 shootings, is ultimately his responsibility. The buck stops with him.

Your husband washes dishes. An honest and worthwhile job, and certainly one that needs doing, but your husband’s responsibility begins and ends with washing the dishes. He’s not even responsible for washing all the dishes on campus, just the ones in his dining hall (and maybe not even all of those, depending on which dining hall he works in and how many people they have washing dishes there).

President Steger has ultimate responsibility for overseeing the jobs of a couple of thousand people, including your husband. He has thousands of times the responsibility of your husband, and for this vastly greater responsibility he makes only about 40 times your husband’s salary.

Frank Beamer, the head football coach, manages a program that brought the university over $14 million in revenue in 2006 (the most recent numbers I found). For this, he earns a base salary of about $272,000. While he also does make about $1.8 million in incentives and appearance fees, my understanding is that those are either not paid by the university and are not guaranteed or consistent, or (in the case of the incentives) are performance based – if the team doesn’t do well, he makes less money, which would seem fair to me.

So, tell me again, who is really being underpaid?

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[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 10/14/11]

Mini rant

Received in a recent email:

[EMS Vehicle] is out of service due to the breaks.

[Insert scream of frustration here.]

To: The world in general,

This is only the most recent example of this error I have seen recently. Please note the following:

“Breaks”, when the word is used as a plural  noun, are gaps or holes in something that are caused by some sort of damage. As a noun, it can also refer to a change in fortune (“A lucky break”).

The parts on a car or other vehicle that cause it to stop moving are called the brakes.

Please stop confusing the two, lest I reach through the interwebs and break your skull.

END OF LINE

Personal finance: Ur doin’ it rong

I stumbled on this article today, and the sheer lack of intelligence behind the central premise just struck me.

The problem, though, is that cappuccino is not a line item in our family budget. We don’t make room for such things when deciding how to spread our dollars. Last year, Joe asked me if I wanted to add it, cautioning me that I’d need to cut out another cost.

[...]

The truth is: When it comes to small indulgences — fancy espresso drinks, tubes of drugstore lipstick — I see the budget as an aspiration. Like a diet, it’s something to respect and work toward.

What follows is basically a series of irrational rationalizations and excuses for busting their budget to the tune of $1000 a year, while essentially saying “I shouldn’t have to reduce what I spend on other things because it’s an indulgence!” The article culminates in this gem of pseudo-wisdom.

To my mind, a few out-of-budget small purchases aren’t going to break us.

If you think that, then you don’t understand what “out-of-budget” means.

The worst part? This is an article from the Wall Street Journal. How did this drivel even make it into publication?

If this is what passes for modern financial wisdom, no wonder our economy is going into the toilet.

END OF LINE

[Source: Wall Street Journal article on Yahoo! Finance, retrieved 4/24/11]

More on Japan’s nuclear plants

I’m going to make a minor retraction of a portion of my previous post on this topic.

First, I stand by my statement that the danger is not nearly as great as the MSM is implying – both by factual errors and misleading headlines. One headline I saw yesterday actually said “Nuclear fuel exposed”. While true in one sense, that is extremely misleading – the fuel rods were “exposed” in that they were not completely covered by water, but they were not exposed to the environment as the headline implied. The reactor vessel itself, as far as I could gather from the reporting*, remained intact and maintained containment of the core.

Having said that, however, it is becoming clear that the scope of the damage may be greater than the article I originally linked to  claimed would occur. Specifically, I quoted the following paragraphs:

There was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity.

By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.

It’s becoming clear from the news reports* that this may not be the case. One story reported levels of 400 mSv (40,000 mrem) near the Fukushima Daiichi No. 4 reactor (with no  indication of what they meant by “near”, of course – is it one mile, or one inch?). There also appears to be the possibility of a small and indirect, but significant, “leak” in the containment vessel of one of the reactors. To quote the same story:

Concerns center on damage to a part of the reactor core known as the suppression pool, which helps cool and trap the majority of cesium, iodine, strontium in its water. The nature of the damage was unclear, as was its impact on the containment structure, a thick steel vessel that surrounds the core.

If there is a leak, it will be worse than my previous post indicated. Barring any major changes in the situation, it will still not be Chernobyl bad, but there’s a strong likelihood it will be worse than Three Mile Island (which was not nearly as bad as the media and popular culture have made it out to be).

A good source on normal exposure levels, with some actual numbers, appears here at the University of Iowa Hospitals website. Also note that there are two main units of radiation dosage in use around the world, and thus in the various articles you may read: rems and Seiverts (Sv). When comparing the two, remember that 1 Sv = 100 rem, or 1 mSv = 100 mrem = 0.1 rem.

Remember the MSM’s apparent inability to get the facts right, though. That same story I linked to above goes on to state that “Exposure to over 100 millisieverts a year is a level which can lead to cancer, according to the World Nuclear Association.” Yet the University of Iowa site I linked to states “Studies have not found increases in cancer in populations who received doses less than 100,000 mrem”. When you convert so that you’re comparing the same units, you’ll note that the news story’s 100 mSv = 10,000 mrem: far less than the 100,000 mrem indicated by the studies – a full order of magnitude difference.

That same story also says “Radiation levels in the city of Maebashi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Tokyo, and in Chiba prefecture, nearer the city, were up to 10 times normal levels, Kyodo news agency said.” Without numbers, and keeping in mind how the article’s statement I’ve already shown above is wrong, I have to be very hesitant about accepting that claim. If you see a similar claim that actually gives numbers, keep in mind that the U of I site states “Background radiation accounts for an individual receiving, on the average, about 300-350 mrem [3 - 3.5 mSv] each year. For example, a cross country airplane flight results in a dose of 4 mrem [0.04 mSv] per trip. A routine chest x-ray is about 10 mrem [0.1 mSv] per film.”

I don’t know about you, but I would trust a university research hospital’s published figures before anything quoted by the MSM.

I’ll say it again: Yes, it’s bad, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the media is making it out to be. When you read these stories, remember, “Nuclear meltdown” sells papers.

* Take that for what it’s worth, given the MSM’s history of “accurate” reporting.

END OF LINE

[Source: Reuters article on Yahoo! News, retrieved 3/15/11]

Japanese nuclear plants and the media’s “layers of editorial oversight”

or “Why the Japanese nuclear meltdowns are not as big an environmental disaster as the mainstream media would have us believe.”

Over at Snowflakes in Hell, commenter Blake Sobiloff links to a Research Scientist friend’s explanation of the situation. It’s long, but worth reading if you care to know the real facts rather than the MSM’s exaggerations. As he notes, “Nuclear meltdown” sells papers. A couple of key points to remember:

There was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity.

By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.

I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single (!) report that was accurate and free of errors. [...] By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error. [emphasis mine]

Note that last sentence. Every. Single. Paragraph. The MSM is talking garbage. Everything he points out in that article is something I learned over 15 years ago when doing a paper for my high school physics class, and the MSM is getting it wrong. While this is admittedly advanced high school level science, it’s still high school level science – there’s no legitimate excuse for professional reporters to get it wrong. Yes, it’s bad, but nowhere near as bad as the media is making it out to be. When you read these stories, remember, “Nuclear meltdown” sells papers.

END OF LINE

Zero Tolerance…

equals Zero Intelligence.

Teacher rattles table in class, student calls 911

ATHERTON, Calif. – A California school teacher was placed on paid administrative leave after he rattled a table to get the attention of his math students, startling an eighth-grade girl who used her cell phone to call police.

[...]

Redwood City School District deputy superintendent John Baker says the teacher was placed on leave because there was a police response.

I really can’t say what my true reaction to this story is, if I want to keep this blog anything approaching family-friendly.

So, what has every student in this district now learned? The next time you want to get out of a test, call the cops on your teacher.

The police will almost always show up anytime they’re called (how long it takes is a whole ‘nother matter). If a student calls and says “My teacher scared me,” they’ll send someone just to check it out. No one in the department wants to be caught dismissing a call like that if something was actually wrong – it makes for really bad headlines when it happens, the elected police leaders get mad, and the fecal matter rolls downhill from there.

This is yet another example of Zero Intelligence Tolerance at work: “It doesn’t matter what really happened, the police showed up so I have to suspend you.”

W. T. F.

Try growing a brain, and a pair of balls, Mr. Baker. It looks like you could use them.

[Source: AP article on Yahoo! News, retrieved 3/2/11]

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